BY PENWELL DLAMINI
The City of Tshwane has launched a bicycle unit to help fight crime in the country’s capital city.
The unit is a result of a partnership that began a year ago between the city and the Hatfield City Improvement District (CID).
The CID is a non-profit organisation made up of properties in the area. Bicycles were funded by the business community within CID. The unit is part of the Tshwane Metro Police Department.
Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga said the unit will start with just 20 officers who volunteered to join but is expected to be expanded to other parts of Tshwane‚ including the city centre.
“Ideally we would like to have a permanent bicycle unit in every ward. Here [in Hatfield] there will be 10 officers at any given time. The plan is to roll it out elsewhere. But we are not going to be able to have 10 in every area. We are moving towards a system where we have 10 metro police officers per ward. It will be a mix – some in bicycles and some in vehicles‚” he said.
“We have been able to launch in Hatfield because the business community saw the need to partner with us and sponsor us with bicycles. If we can get that in the CBD‚ Centurion‚ Mamelodi‚ Garankuwa‚ Hamanskraal … we should be able to launch as soon as possible in other spaces.”
Msimanga said the student community had raised concerns about being constantly mugged in Hatfield and this unit would deal with such crimes.
The bicycles also communicate with CCTV camera monitors‚ who will give the officers information about any crime taking place in a particular spot.
“You have a better chance of manoeuvering through traffic and pavement with a bicycle than a car. Also when you have these guys visible on the streets‚ visibility also reduces the likelihood of people getting mugged‚” he said.
The unit is part of Msimanga’s plan to improve safety in the city and attract investment.
The city has already launched a drug unit and is expected to soon launch one to deal with hijackings.